1000 Mythological Characters Briefly Described

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“From the great father of the gods above
My muse begins, for all is full of Jove.”

Hera stands leaning on a staff

See page 64


[81] Leucothea (Leucoth′ea). The name of Ino after she was transformed into a sea nymph.

Levana (Leva′na). The deity who presided over new-born infants.

Level, The, see Daedalus.

Liakura (Liak′ura). Mount Parnassus.

Liberal Arts, see Minerva.

Liber Pater (Li′ber Pa′ter). A name of Bacchus.

Liberty, see Bacchus.

Libissa (Lib′issa). Queen of fays and fairies.

Libitina (Libiti′na). A Roman goddess, the chief of the funeral deities.

Licentiousness, see Belphegor.

Ligea (Lige′a). A Greek syren or sea-nymph, one of the Nereides.

Lightning, see Agni.

Lilith (Li′lith). A Jewish myth representing a finely dressed woman who is a great enemy to new-born children. She was said to have been Adam’s first wife, but, refusing to submit to him, was turned from Paradise and made a specter.

Lina (Li′na). The goddess of the art of weaving.

Lindor (Lin′dor). A lover in the shape of a shepherd, like Corydon; a love-sick swain.

Lion, see Atalanta, Chimaera.

Liver, see Tityus and Prometheus.

Locks, see Janus.

[82] Lofen (Lo′fen). The Scandinavian god who guards friendship.

Lofua (Lof′ua). The Scandinavian goddess who reconciles lovers.

Loke. The Scandinavian Satan, the god of strife, the spirit of evil. Written also Lok, and Loki.

Lotis (Lo′tis). A daughter of Neptune, who fled from Priapus, and only escaped from him by being transformed into a lotus-plant.

Lotus-Plant (Lo′tus-Plant), see Lotis.

Love, see Cupid, Eros, Venus.

Lucian (Lu′cian). The impersonation of folly, changed into an ass.

Lucifer (Lu′cifer). The morning star.

Lucina (Luci′na). The goddess who presides at the birth of children. She was a daughter of Jupiter and Juno, or, according to others, of Latona.

“Lucina, hail! So named from thine own grove,
Or from the light thou giv’st us from above.”

Lud. In ancient British mythology the king of the Britons. He is said to have given his name to London.

Luna (Lu′na). The name of Diana as a celestial divinity. See Diana and Hecate. Also, the Italian goddess of the moon.

Lupercus (Lu′percus), or Pan. The Roman god of fertility; his festival day was 15th February, and the festivals were called Lupercalia.

[83] Lycaonian Food (Lycaon′ian). Execrable viands, such as were supplied to Jupiter by Lycaon. To test the divine knowledge of the god he served up human flesh, which Jove discovered, and punished Lycaon by turning him into a wolf.

Lycian Clowns were turned into frogs by Latona or Ceres.

Lymniades (Lymni′ades). Nymphs who resided in marshes.

Lynceus (Lyn′ceus). One of the Argonauts. The personification of sharpsightedness.

Lyre. This musical instrument is constantly associated with the doings of the ancient deities. Amphion built the walls of Thebes by the music of his lyre. Arion charmed the dolphins in a similar way. Hercules broke the head of Linus, his music-master, with the lyre he was learning to use; and Orpheus charmed the most savage beasts, and even the Harpies and gods of the infernal regions, with the enchanting music of the stringed lyre. See Mercury.

Maenades (Maen′ades). Priestesses of Bacchus.

Magicians, see Telchines.

Magna Dea (Mag′na De′a), a name of Ceres.

Magpies, see Pierides.

Mahasoor (Ma′ha′soor). The Hindoo god of evil.

Maia (Ma′ia). The mother of the Grecian Mercury.

Mammon (Mam′mon). The money god.

[84] Manes (Ma′nes). The souls of the departed. The Roman god of funerals and tombs.

“All have their Manes, and their Manes bear.
The few who’re cleansed to those abodes repair,
And breathe in ample fields the soft Elysian air.”

Manuring Land, see Picumnus.

March 24, Bellona’s Day. See Bellona.

Marina (Mari′na). A name of Venus, meaning sea-foam, from her having been formed from the froth of the sea. See Aphrodite.

Marriage, see Cama, Hymen, Juno, Jugatinus.

Mars, the god of war, was the son of Jupiter and Juno. Venus was his favorite goddess, and among their children were Cupid, Anteros, and Harmonia. In the Trojan War Mars took the part of the Trojans, but was defeated by Diomedes. The first month of the old Roman year (our March) was sacred to Mars.

Marshes, see Lymniades.

Marsyas (Mar′syas). The name of the piper who challenged Apollo to a musical contest, and, being defeated, was flayed to death by the god. He was the supposed inventor of the flute.

Marut (Ma′rut). The Hindoo god of tempestuous winds.

Matura (Matu′ra). One of the rural deities who protected the growing corn at time of ripening.

Maximus (Max′imus). One of the appellations of Jupiter, being the greatest of the gods.

Measures and Weights, see Mercury.

[85] Medea (Mede′a). Wife of Jason, chief of the Argonauts. To punish her husband for infidelity, Medea killed two of her children in their father’s presence. She was a great sorceress. See Jason.

“Now to Medaea’s dragons fix my reins.”
F. Lewis.
“Let not Medea draw her murdering knife,
And spill her children’s blood upon the stage.”
Lord Roscommon.

Medicine, see Apollo.

Meditation, see Harpocrates.

Medusa (Medu′sa). One of the Gorgons. Minerva changed her beautiful hair into serpents. She was conquered by Perseus, who cut off her head, and placed it on Minerva’s shield. Every one who looked at the head was turned into stone.

Ulysses, in the Odyssey, relates that he wished to see more of the inhabitants of Hades, but was afraid, as he says—

“Lest Gorgon, rising from the infernal lakes,
With horrors armed, and curls of hissing snakes,
Should fix me, stiffened at the monstrous sight,
A stony image in eternal night.”
Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards
The ford.”
“Remove that horrid monster, and take hence
Medusa’s petrifying countenance.”

[86] Megaera (Meg′aera). One of the three Furies—Greek goddesses of vengeance.

Megale (Meg′ale). A Greek name of Juno, meaning great.

Melicerta (Melicer′ta), see Palaemon.

Mellona (Mello′na). One of the rural divinities, the goddess of bees.

Melpomene (Melpom′ene). One of the nine Muses, the goddess of tragedy.

Memnon (Mem′non), son of Tithonus and of Eos, who after the death of Hector brought the Aethiopians to the assistance of Priam in the war against Troy.

Memory, see Mnemosyne.

Mendes (Men′des). An Egyptian god like Pan. He was worshiped in the form of a goat.

Menelaus (Menela′us). A Spartan king, brother of Agamemnon. The elopement of his wife Helen with Paris was the cause of the siege of Troy. See Helena.

Menu (Me′nu), or Manu (Ma′nu). The Hindoo law-giver. See Satyavrata.

Merchants, see Mercury.

Mercury (Mer′cury), the son of Jupiter and Maia, was the messenger of the gods, and the conductor of the souls of the dead to Hades. He was the supposed inventor of weights and measures, and presided over orators and merchants. Mercury was accounted a most cunning thief, for he stole the bow and quiver of Apollo, the [87] girdle of Venus, the trident of Neptune, the tools of Vulcan, and the sword of Mars, and he was therefore called the god of thieves. He is the supposed inventor of the lyre, which he exchanged with Apollo for the Caduceus. There was also an Egyptian Mercury under the name of Thoth, or Thaut, who is credited with having taught the Egyptians geometry and hieroglyphics. Hermes is the Greek name of Mercury. In art he is usually represented as having on a winged cap, and with wings on his heels.

“And there, without the power to fly,
Stands fix’d a tip-toe Mercury.”
Lloyd, 1750.
“Then fiery expedition be my wing,
Jove’s Mercury, and herald for a king.”
“Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels
And fly, like thought, from them to me again.”

Meru (Me′ru). The abode of the Hindoo god Vishnu. It is at the top of a mountain 8,000 leagues high. The Olympus of the East Indians.

Midas (Mi′das). A king of Phrygia, who begged of Bacchus the special gift that everything that he touched might be turned into gold. The request was granted, and as soon as he touched his food it also was turned to gold, and for fear of being starved he was compelled to ask the god to withdraw the power he had bestowed upon him. He was told to bathe in the river Pactolus. He did so, and the sands [88] which he stood on were golden forever after. It was this same king who, being appointed to be judge in a musical contest between Apollo and Pan, gave the satyr the palm; whereupon Apollo, to show his contempt, bestowed on him a pair of asses’ ears. This gave rise to the term “Midas-eared” as a synonym for ill-judged, or indiscriminate.

“He dug a hole, and in it whispering said,
What monstrous ears sprout from King Midas’ head.”

Milo (Mi′lo), a celebrated Croton athlete, who is said to have felled an ox with his fist, and to have eaten the beast in one day. His statue is often seen with one hand in the rift of a tree trunk, out of which he is vainly trying to withdraw it. The fable is, that when he got to be an old man he attempted to split an oak tree, but having lost his youthful vigor, the tree closed on his hand and he was held a prisoner till the wolves came and devoured him.

Mimallones (Mimallo′nes). The “wild women” who accompanied Bacchus, so called because they mimicked his actions, putting horns on their heads when they took part in his orgies.

Mimir (Mi′mir). In Scandinavian mythology the god of wisdom.

Mind, see Erinnys.

Minerva (Miner′va), the goddess of wisdom, war, and the liberal arts, is said to have sprung from the [89] head of Jupiter fully armed for battle. She was a great benefactress of mankind, and patroness of the fine arts. She was the tutelar deity of the city of Athens. She is also known by the names of Pallas, Parthenos, Tritonia, and Glaukopis. She was very generally worshiped by the ancients, and her temple at Athens, the Parthenon, still remains. She is represented in statues and pictures as wearing a golden helmet encircled with an olive branch, and a breastplate. In her right hand she carries a lance, and by her side is the famous aegis or shield, covered with the skin of Amalthaea, the goat which nourished Jupiter; and for the boss of the shield is the head of Medusa. An owl, the emblem of meditation, is on the left; and a cock, the emblem of courage, on the right. The Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, London, were brought from the Parthenon, her temple at Athens.

Minos (Mi′nos). The supreme of the three judges of hell, before whom the spirits of the departed appeared and heard their doom.

Minotaur (Min′otaur). The monster, half man, half bull, which Theseus slew.

Mirth, see Momus.

Misery, see Genii.

Mithras (Mith′ras). A Persian divinity, the ruler of the universe, corresponding with the Roman Sol.

[90] Mnemosyne (Mnemos′yne). Mother of the Muses and goddess of memory. Jupiter courted the goddess in the guise of a shepherd.

Moakibat (Moak′ibat). The recording angel of the Mohammedans.

Moloch (Mo′loch). A god of the Phoenicians to whom human victims, principally children, were sacrificed. Moloch is figurative of the influence which impels us to sacrifice that which we ought to cherish most dearly.

“First Moloch, horrid king, besmeared with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents’ tears,
Though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,
Their children’s cries unheard, that poured through fire
To this grim idol.”

Momus (Mo′mus). The god of mockery and blame. The god who blamed Jove for not having made a window in man’s breast, so that his thoughts could be seen. His bitter jests occasioned his being driven from heaven in disgrace. He is represented as holding an image of Folly in one hand, and raising a mask from his face with the other. He is also described as the god of mirth or laughter.

Moneta (Mone′ta). A name given to Juno by those writers who considered her the goddess of money.

Money, see Moneta.

Money-God, see Mammon.

Moon. The moon was, by the ancients, called Hecate before and after setting; Astarte [91] when in crescent form; Diana when in full. See Luna.

“Soon as the evening shades prevail
The moon takes up her wondrous tale,
And nightly to the list’ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth.”

Morpheus (Mor′pheus). The Greek god of sleep and dreams, the son and minister of Somnus.

Morpheus, the humble god that dwells
In cottages and smoky cells;
Hates gilded roofs and beds of down,
And though he fears no prince’s frown,
Flies from the circle of a crown.”
Sir John Denman.

Mors. Death, a daughter of Nox (Night).

Mountain, see Atlas, Nymph.

Mulciber (Mul′ciber). A name of Vulcan, sometimes spelled Mulcifer, the smelter of metals. See Vulcan.

Munin (Mun′in). The Scandinavian god of memory, represented by the raven that was perched on Odin’s shoulder.

Muscarius (Musca′rius). A name given to Jupiter because he kept off the flies from the sacrifices.

Muses, The (Mu′ses), were nine daughters of Jupiter and Mnemosyne. They presided over the arts and sciences, music and poetry. Their names were, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Euterpe, Polyhymnia, and Urania. They principally resided in Mount Parnassus, at Helicon.

“Be thou the tenth Muse, ten times more in worth,
Than those old nine which rhymers advocate.”

[92] Music, see Apollo, Muses.

Mythras (My′thras). The Egyptian name of Apollo.

Naiads, The (Nai′ads), were beautiful nymphs of human form who presided over springs, fountains, and wells. They resided in the meadows by the sides of rivers. Virgil mentions Aegle as being the fairest of the Naiades.

Nandi (Nan′di). The Hindoo goddess of joy.

Narrae (Nar′rae). The name of the infernal regions amongst the Hindoos.

Narayan (Na′ra′yan). The mover of the waters. The Hindoo god of tides.

Narcissus (Narcis′sus), son of Cephisus and the Naiad Liriope, was a beautiful youth, who was so pleased with the reflection of himself which he saw in the placid water of a fountain that he could not help loving it, imagining that it must be some beautiful nymph. His fruitless endeavors to possess himself of the supposed nymph drove him to despair, and he killed himself. There sprang from his blood a flower, which was named after him, Narcissus.

Narcissus so himself forsook,
And died to kiss his shadow in the brook.”
“Hadst thou Narcissus in thy face, to me
Thou wouldst appear most ugly.”